What is SWaP-C?

SWaP-C is an acronym for Size, Weight, Power and Cost. In research and development, it is generally used in reference to optimizing the Size, Weight, Power and Cost of a device, system, or program.

When developing a new electronic control or detection device for an aircraft, for example, design decisions often involve making the item smaller, lighter, more powerful, and/or lower in cost. Achieving even one or two of those criteria can be reason enough to recommend or request a new design, although progress achieved in all four areas is always ideal. 

There are always many factors that go into development of a new or updated product design, and the more complex that product is, the more factors there are to consider. When the product or system is being developed for aerospace, military, or government buyers, those factors are often boiled down to the SWaP-C criteria.

If you are wondering why the "a" is before the "P" instead of after, SWaP-C originated simply as SWaP, referring only to Size, Weight, and Power considerations. It should come as no surprise that soon Cost needed to be added into the equation, so it was tacked on at the end. That does not mean, though, that lowering the cost is necessarily the last consideration.

 


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